FAIRBANKS — University of Alaska Board of Regents appointee Tammy Randolph has officially withdrawn her name from consideration for the job.
Randolph, a North Pole insurance agent of 27 years, provided the News-Miner with the withdrawal letter she sent Wednesday afternoon to Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
“With this letter I formally withdraw my name from consideration for appointment to the University of Alaska Board of Regents,” Randolph wrote. “I have the utmost respect for the institution and its mission, and I no longer wish to distract from its pressing business.
“I am grateful for the honor you bestowed on me by forwarding my name for this position of distinction. After much consideration and reflection today, I have decided that my priorities at this point in my life — my family and my businesses in Fairbanks — must take precedence.”
Randolph’s withdrawal follows controversy over a series of posts on Randolph’s Twitter account that some have categorized as racist and misogynistic. Randolph apologized for offending anyone in a statement provided to the News-Miner on Monday after she deleted both her original Twitter account and a second one created shortly thereafter.
Randolph’s Twitter posts, made prior to her appointment, included some partisan activity typically found on social media but also included retweets regarding false rape accusations by women, attacking a congresswoman of Somali descent, attacking a congresswoman of Palestinian descent and referring to former First Lady Michelle Obama as a man.
In her Monday statement, Randolph noted it had not occurred to her that her Twitter activity would have been viewed in conjunction with her possible role in public office.
“The language expressed was out of boldness and arrogance, as it never occurred to me that they would be seen in the context of a role such as a public figure,” Randolph wrote. “What I have come to understand in the past few days is that words do matter, and that mine were unnecessary. I am sorry for the use of such rude and severe language. The calling out was deserved, and as a result I have since deactivated the account.”
Randolph was unable to be reached for comment as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Dunleavy defended his nomination in a statement provided through a spokesman Wednesday evening.
“This administration felt Tammy Randolph was a perfectly qualified candidate — a very intelligent and successful business person — that would have brought a wealth of knowledge and perspective to the University of Alaska System and the UA Board of Regents. Governor Dunleavy wholeheartedly stands by her appointment, but also stands by her decision to withdraw her name from consideration and return to her family and thriving business,” said Press Secretary Matt Shuckerow.
The statement made no mention of Randolph’s Twitter activity or the subsequent public response to the posts.
Sen Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, was one of the first legislators to voice concern over the nomination and Randolph’s Twitter activity. Begich sits on the Senate Education Committee which would have been responsible for hearing Randolph’s nomination prior to sending it to the full Senate.
“I think the fact that Ms. Randolph has withdrawn is probably good for the university,” Begich told the News-Miner Wednesday evening. “I think it must have been a difficult decision for her but given the nature of the tweets and other information that was out there, I think it was the right decision. I’m looking forward to seeing the governor’s next appointment to the Board of Regents.”
Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, chairs the Senate Education Committee. Stevens initially declined to comment on the matter when asked about Randolph’s Twitter activity and spoke highly of the Randolph family in response to the withdrawal announcement Wednesday.
“I know the family well and know several members of the Randolph family and have tremendous respect for them,” Stevens told the News-Miner in a Wednesday evening phone call. “It’s always tough when someone has to make those tough decisions. I’m sure she’s right for doing it. It’s probably best for her not to have to go through those constant reminders as the hearing would have gone on. I have nothing against Tammy at all, but it was probably a wise decision.”
Stevens made no mention of Randolph’s Twitter activity.
Sen. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, said his office had received a large number of calls and emails about her confirmation.
“We probably got dozens of calls and emails about her, mostly concerned about her qualifications and maybe a couple supporting her,” Kawasaki told the News-Miner Wednesday evening.
Kawasaki said he had not decided his official position on Randolph and wanted to wait until her hearing before the Senate, but feels the related issues reflect the larger issue of a lack of candidate vetting.
“I was willing to hear her qualifications as a person to see if she was qualified,” Kawasaki said. “But the bigger issue here is that the governor has not been vetting appointees and candidates well enough and recent events have given me cause for alarm. I mean just last week, one lied on his resume and before the committee, another was removed from same department within 24 hours. As the Legislature, it’s our moral obligation and our job to vet candidates to make sure we have the best people.”
With Randolph’s withdrawal, the position on the board will stand open until the governor appoints a new member.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.